IPR and standards in Research 

Intellectual Property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which temporary property rights are recognized by the law. Under IP law, owners are granted certain exclusive temporary rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as: musical, literary, artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of IPR include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design, and domain names rights.

The European IPR Helpdesk, in collaboration with CEN and CENELEC, has issued a new fact sheet on the benefits that standardization can bring to European projects. For questions on how to address standardization and IPR in your Horizon 2020 proposal contact Luc van den Berghe.

The 2 main types of intellectual property relevant to standardization are patents and copyright:


CEN and CENELEC Standards (or other technical documents published by CEN and CENELEC) are publications that are protected by copyright.

The development of a standard is a collaborative exercise by a group of technical experts working together in a CEN or CENELEC Technical Committee, Working Group or Workshop. The standards are copyrighted collective work made by a set of independent bodies, with original inputs from experts (authors).

To make this clear, technical experts (including researchers) who together create the content of a standard are requested to sign an undertaking in which they assign the exploitation rights of their contributions to the European Standardization process to CEN or CENELEC.

Equally, when a research project is entering in a project liaison relationship to a TC, it also has to sign an undertaking accepting CEN's exploitation rights policy and agreeing that no information brought to the project's attention will be disseminated or exploited in any form.

The original copyright holder of a contribution to the European Standardization process (e.g. a researcher) is not precluded from continuing to exploit his own contribution for his own purposes if this does not adversely affect the exploitation of the common work that is the standard itself.

Reproduction requests for including extracts of CEN-CENELEC publications in this context should be made to CCMC.
There is therefore no objection that a researcher publishes an article with his findings in a specialized journal or in a conference. However, the article must not infer that this is an alternative means of accessing, in part or in full, the contents of a CEN or CENELEC standard.

With the increased emphasis on standardization as a means to exploit research/innovation project outcomes, CEN or CENELEC publications (ENs,TSs, TRs, CWAs) may increasingly originate from EU-funded research/innovation projects. These publications shall not be made available free of charge (unless agreed by the CEN or CENELEC Administrative Board).  The complete CEN and CENELEC Policy on dissemination, sales and copyright of CEN-CENELEC Publications is published as CEN-CENELEC Guide 10


Standardization is intended to put ideas into the public domain, whereas patents intend to make an invention the property of the inventor for a certain limited period. Accordingly, beliefs may exist that standards and patents are in opposition, whereas they can in fact fit closely together.

Where standards are formulated in terms of results to be achieved rather than in terms of technical solutions, a patented technology is indeed only one possible approach to comply with the requirement of the standard.

However, what about so-called “essential patents”, i.e. those patents that would necessarily be infringed when implementing a standard because there are no commercially acceptable, non-infringing alternatives for implementing such a standard?  (Patents are thus essential for a standard when it is not possible at the time of the standardization making-process, to make a product/method that complies with the standard without infringing the IPR on that Patent.)

CEN and CENELEC endorsed the Common Patent Policy adopted by ISO, IEC and ITU. CEN-CENELEC Guide 8 gives guidelines for the implementation of their Common IPR Policy on Patents.
The CEN and CENELEC Patent Policy requests stakeholders participating in the technical work, and in particular patent holders, to proceed to early disclosures and identification of patents that may be considered, at the best of their knowledge, to be essential for the future use of the deliverables under development. A declaration form, which is part of the CEN-CENELEC Guide 8, exists to this effect.

In the case of essential patents in standards, patents holders will have to assure that they are willing to negotiate licences under Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms and conditions (so-called FRAND conditions) with applicants throughout the world.

CEN and CENELEC make available to the public a common Patent Information list.